Chip Scoggins is a Star Tribune sports columnist. He has temporarily returned to cover the Minnesota Vikings. He had the beat from 2008-2011 after covering college football for five years. Chip has been with the Star Tribune since January 2000. He can be followed on twitter at @chipscoggins.Find Chip on Facebook.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
The Vikings usually have their starting quarterback hold a weekly press conference every Wednesday morning, whoever that guy might be.
Well, Christian Ponder is still scheduled to speak today, the team confirmed. Does that mean Coach Leslie Frazier has decided to keep Ponder as the starter after removing him in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 41-20 loss at Seattle? Possibly, but we'll get clarification when Frazier speaks to reporters.
Update: Ponder was named the starter at Frazier's press conference.
Many of us expected another quarterback change this week with Josh Freeman getting a second chance as the starter.
Mark broke down the quarterback issue for the Vikings in today's centerpiece story.
We'll have a new blog after Frazier and Ponder speak.
SEATTLE -- Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings is a surprise inactive today against the Seattle Seahawks.
Jennings was listed as probable on the final injury report after dealing with an Achilles injury in practice this week.
Jarius Wright will start in Jennings place.
The Vikings also announced that rookie Cordarrelle Patterson will start in place of Jerome Simpson, who is being benched after being charged with DWI this week.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier hinted several times this week that Simpson could be replaced by Patterson as punishment for his legal trouble.
Quarterback Josh Freeman also is inactive, meaning Matt Cassel will serve as Christian Ponder's backup again.
The other inactives are cornerback Shaun Prater, running back Matt Asiata, offensive guard Jeff Baca, tight end Kyle Rudolph and nose tackle Letroy Guion.
Fred Evans will start in place of Guion, but Frazier said this week that Kevin Williams will get some snaps at that position. Williams recorded 2 1/2 sacks against Washington last week at nose tackle with Guion and Evans sidelined because of injuries.
Quarterback Christian Ponder remains optimistic that he will play Sunday against Seattle after suffering a dislocated left shoulder last week.
Ponder was limited in practice on Wednesday but he's encouraged by the progress he's made this week.
"Honestly it's a lot better than I expected to be all week," he said Thursday. "I was a little pessmistic about what was going to happen over the weekend. I was very uncomfortable. I woke up Monday and Tuesday and I kept feeling better and better. Our training staff has done such a great job of getting me to feel better. So I threw it around a lot more than I expected to [Wednesday]. And each day it's going to keep getting better.''
Ponder said he will wear a harness on his shoulder to protect it.
"I don't think I'm going to wear padding," he said. "I'm going to wear a harness, which people usually wear when they dislocate a shoulder to keep it in place. But I'm not going to wear any extra padding or anything.''
The Seahawks are a physical defense that already has collected 31 sacks, fifth most in the NFL. Ponder said he's not concerned about taking contact.
"I don't know how it's going to feel," he said. "Obviously, I'm going to get hit at some point. Hopefully not. But we'll see how it ends up feeling. But I'm sure it will it be a little painful and hopefully the Seahawks don't have a target on it.''
Jared on Percy, Bevell and Taylor Swift
Jared Allen's weekly media session was particularly entertaining.
Here are a few highlights:
On Seattle's home-field advantage: "They talk about tough environments to play in, it’s just loud. The fans aren't going to come on the field and attack you or anything. Well, I hope not. People talk about ‘Oh, it’s a crazy environment.' It's just fans screaming like they're supposed to. It's just loud. But it makes it fun."
On possibly seeing Percy Harvin lined up on the other side: "I sure hope he isn’t. Percy is good enough, let alone coming back with fresh legs and [ticked] off at us. ... Percy is the type of guy you’ve got to stop him before he starts. You can’t let him get going. You can’t let him get in the open field. That’s where he’s dangerous, those second-effort plays. We obviously got see first-hand what he can do. He’s a tough kid. If he’s in there, we’re going to have to go hit him."
On former Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell: "We went to a Taylor Swift concert together, which was awkward. I thought I was at like a Hannah Montana concert for a while. Like, what is going on, here? My wife and I were like, do you think we need to leave? There was like spirit fingers and choreographed dances. I was in the wrong place.
"[Bevell's] kids wanted to go. I knew someone’s road manager. I’m huge country music fan. When Taylor first came out, I liked her music. But I had never been to her concert. I was assuming it was going to be a normal concert. It was a like Tween concert. I’m like, what is going on?"
Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson was arrested Saturday morning on probable cause DWI.
Simpson was booked into the Hennepin County Jail at 5:39 a.m.
The Vikings issued a brief statement acknowleding Simpson's arrest: "The Vikings are aware of the matter involving Jerome Simpson. We are continuing to gather information and will have further comment at the appropriate time."
An NFL spokesman said the league will review Simpson's case. The 27-year-old receiver faces possible additional punishment from the league because he was suspended for three games last year as a result of a felony drug case in Kentucky.
Simpson was sentenced to 15 days in jail plus three years probation in that case.
What's not clear is if this latest arrest might affect his probation.
The Vikings re-signed Simpson to another one-year contract this past offseason after a disappointing debut with the team in 2012. Simpson currently leads the team in receiving yards (491) and is second in catches (33).
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier gave his players three days off following Thursday's 34-27 victory against the Washington Redskins.
Simpson served 15 days last summer at the Kenton County Detention Center in Kentucky.
Simpson's punishment stemmed from a September, 2011, incident in which authorities intercepted a package containing 2.5 pounds of marijuana on its way to his Kentucky home. Police later searched Simpson's residence and found an additional 6 pounds of marijuana plus drug paraphernalia.
Originally indicted on a trafficking charge, Simpson eventually entered a guilty plea to a lesser felony charge of "being involved in a prohibited act relating to controlled substances."
Vikings players have options when they drink too much, as Kent Youngblood detailed in this story last year.
Locker room banter after the Vikings' 34-27 victory over Washington:
Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams on trailing 24-14 at halftime: "We came in here, didn’t draw anything on the board, and just said we would come out and get the job done. We can draw up all the plays we want, but if we didn’t execute they would drive us out of here and we could either get embarrassed or stand up and fight."
Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel, who relieved an injured Christian Ponder (dislocated shoulder) for the fourth quarter: "I knew that I was the backup and I always prepare, so I was happy that I was able to come in and contribute. We were able to move the ball and get some points, at the same time the load of the work Christian did himself. He did an outstanding job and I thought he battled all night. He made plays with his legs and, like I said, it makes it easier for me to come into that situation. When we have a lead, the teams playing well and, like I said, I was just happy to be able to contribute."
Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway on how the defense changed in the second half: "I think it was pretty basic. Jared Allen did a pretty good job by getting at us in the way he needed to. Tackling was obviously a challenge for us in the first half, and plays that we were locked on from a schematic standpoint and we weren’t making stops because we weren’t able to get after the ball. It got to us, but it was more of just what we were doing and not really what they were doing. But I have got to give credit to a lot of guys. Andrew Sendejo really kept us in this ball game the way he came down hill and hit it in the alley and closed the other guys up front."
Vikings tight end John Carlson, who had seven catches and 98 yards replacing injured Kyle Rudolph: "Yeah, I’m excited it was fun to be involved, but obviously we miss Kyle. Kyle’s a beast and we want him out there on the field. It was fun to be out there on offense and hopefully that can continue, but we want Kyle back as soon as possible."
Vikings defensive end Jared Allen on teammate Kevin Williams, who had 2.5 sacks: "What he does in the run game with his leadership and the ability he still has to make game changing plays just proves how good he really is. With his leadership and his accomplishments in the league, when he talks you listen and he backed it up."
Ponder, on his shoulder: "I didn’t know what was going on at first. They popped it back into place, and I was able to move it fine. I thought that I could maybe have a chance to go in. There was some pain. It was probably smart for me not to go. I don’t know if I would have been limited or not, but we have a more than capable quarterback in Matt to go out there and win a game for us."
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, on Ponder: "Yeah, he looked more calm, he looked comfortable. He just went out there and played football. The way he came out and approached it allowed us to be balanced offensively, he was able to complete a lot of balls to a lot of different receivers and it kept Washington’s defense on their heels. He was able to sneak a run in there and be more balanced offensively, and shoot, we were able to move the ball."
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, on calling two timeouts when Washington had the ball late in the game: "One our guys were getting a little fatigued and if they were to get a score, I wanted us to have a chance to go back and respond. I didn’t want them to run the clock out and us not have a chance on offense. Fortunately for us, because our guys were gassed, they got their breath and made some big stops at the end."
Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III: "We were on fire on third down early in the game. It’s not often that you go nine of ten on converting third downs in any game. We were on fire, and were bound to come down a little bit. But in the moments that it did, we didn’t need it to. I saw the way the game was going and that’s just unfortunate."
Washington RB Alfred Morris: "The (Vikings) played an almost perfect game. To play in their backyard, noise can be a factor when calling plays and it is hard to hear. It can take some time to block it out."
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